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Fans speak out about putting words in John Lennon's mouth

Yesterday it was announced that there would be a new public service ad using a voice that sounds like John Lennon, which is presented as if it is John Lennon speaking.

Many Beatles and John Lennon fans have emailed Beatles News to say how they feel about this, and most of them don't like it. Here is a sampling of some of the reader emails that came in last night and today:

• I think it's a great concept - almost a message from beyond, however, they could have found a less-cartoonish voice.

• It made me cry. It all came back to me about the day he was killed. Think of what John Lennon could have done for the world if he had been allowed to live!

• Putting words in John's mouth-wrong on many levels.

• I makes me very angry.  They have no right to do this.

• It is a good worthy cause, but to put words into John's mouth and make it appear as though he's saying words he never said, kind of made me sick. What, in 10 years or so when the technology is there, we'll have a new digital John Lennon who'll appear on the Tonight Show? Record new songs?  Have a hologram that will go on tour and sing his greatest hits?  All for Charity of course. That's the trick, people will allow almost anything to happen as long as it's for charity. What, will we be able to buy our OWN John Lennon and have him sit next to us and watch tv and discuss the news of the day, oh boy? Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating, but with technology, I can see some of these things happening...

• You've hit the nail on the head regarding the use of John Lennon's image and (fake) voice to promote the OLPC laptops, it's immoral to resurrect someone like that based on what you THINK (rather, WANT) them to say.

• Horrified, stunned, and disgusted. If John were alive, I could imagine him backing such a project, sure. But to presume to put words into the mouth of a man dead nearly 30 years, to the point of impersonating his voice and manipulating an old video image, is just unbelievable.

• Yoko has hit a new low. It's more than obvious she doesn't give a shoot about The Beatles' intentions NOT to sell-out and/or diminish their integrity. John must be puking on a cloud right now.

• Some people (probably most) will object to this only because it's John Lennon and they consider it too sacred a subject (the Lennon legacy, that is) to do this to.  There's a much bigger picture here, though.  When something like this becomes acceptable, it's much easier for it to proliferate on the internet.  Look at how still image editing is now as common as breathing.  Some of that image editing is done so well, an uninformed person will believe it as real.  The same is happening with motion video as tools for such manipulations enter into the masses inexpensively.  What manipulations will happen with moving video where someone is saying something they didn't really say? It's not something that can be (or probably should be attempted to be) regulated or stopped, but the potential for abuse is astounding!

• Hard to believe that Yoko would endorse something like this. No one (whether famous or not) should have words put into their mouth (whether they are living or dead) in a commercial. Laptops weren't even available the year John Lennon died.  Seems silly that he would endorse something like this from beyond the grave. It's disingenuous to lip sync him with a fake voice and accent.  Where will this end?!

• John Lennon is not Mickey Mouse.  He's not an imaginary image and logo who can or should have his voice imitated by an actor and his lips animated to reflect an advertising shpiel written 28 years after his death.  It's one thing to just slap a picture or even footage of him on the screen and say, "John Lennon asked us to imagine a better world and to make it so, and we'd like to do the same."  Although I believe every child in the world deserves the same access to information via the web, this organization has very tastelessly exploited John Lennon's likeness and message to fit their own agenda.  Is this a charitable organization?  Who's really sponsoring this and what do they hope to gain?  Free computers for poor children?  Awesome.  They still have to pay for the software.  What if their parents can't afford cable or FiOS?  I'd love to believe that these folks are serious about the gift they're promising, but such a breach of decency as putting words in a dead man's mouth to peddle yourself makes me wonder about their sincerity and their motivations. Yoko approved this.  Big whoop.  She also approves of a travelling art show where reproductions of posthumous forgeries of John's personal doodles are passed off as his fine art and sold for exorbitant sums of dough.

• I think it is appalling and a slippery slope no one should go on. This crosses the line because it intentionally gives the illusion that Lennon is speaking. The voice may even sound like him to many who are not life-long fans and that is incredulous. People may actually believe this... as noble a cause yes, but if something more sinister was said... it will happen... and only then will people speak out. This is Yoko at her very worst...

• It doesn't even sound like John at all! Bizarre! Yoko has lost her mind.

Published December 27, 2008

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